The application deadline has passed for the 2021 Apprenticeship



Fennel Beets

Apprentices get hands-on experience with a wide variety of crops.

The Farm

Tollgate Farm is located on 160 acres in Novi, MI and includes pasture, hay fields, 40 acres of forest, a conference center and educational facilities. The sustainable agriculture field totals seven acres with three under cultivation as well as a heated greenhouse for transplant production and four caterpillar tunnels. We grow more than forty different vegetables for sale to our 200+ member CSA, farm stand and a local restaurant. Embracing organic growing methods and progressive growing techniques, our production strives to push the boundaries of sustainable agriculture. 

Tractor Work

From hand scaled to tractor scaled, apprentices will become familiar with a wide range of tools


The Apprenticeship

The operation is designed from the soil up as both a production and dedicated training facility. As an apprentice, you will not only learn in a production environment with experienced farmers, but develop your knowledge and skills with seasoned educators.

The apprenticeship is an intensive introduction into the field of small scale vegetable agriculture, equipping participants with the knowledge, skills and experience needed to begin their own operation. Apprentices will be responsible for the day to day operation of the farm, including planting, weeding, harvesting and processing the produce. CSA distribution and market stands will also be operated by the apprentices. At the end of the season, the apprentices will have an excellent handle on the operation of the farm and dedicated participants would be qualified for a manager position.

As part of the program, apprentices will engage with textual and online material. These more formal learning opportunities will connect the hands on technical training to larger concepts necessary to understand the operation of a farm. Topics covered in the apprenticeship include:

Crop and soil science

Financial literacy

Business management and marketing

Organic pest and disease control

Operational management

Apprentices will also have the opportunity to visit other organizations that are involved in the local, sustainable food movement, including farms, value added facilities and other relevant businesses and organizations. Apprentices will also occasionally assist and interact with other educational programs on site.

Apprentices will have access to and are encouraged to use the produce from the farm.

 Apprentice pay is $12/hour, 40 hours a week from mid-May until late October.

Eli, Pumpkin Patch

Innovate techniques such as roller-crimping are experimented with and used in the production.



Previous farming or gardening experience is not required. Instead we are seeking candidates with a demonstrated interest in sustainability and indications that this experience will inform your future work. 

Applicants are expected to be physically capable as the job involves completing long stretches of strenuous labor in challenging working conditions. Previous outdoor work experience is preferred and the applicant should be able to lift 50+lbs. Applicants should indicate their experience with outdoor and physical undertakings as the position requires working in all outdoor conditions. Applicants with physical limitations should please indicate those in their application material and how they have overcome those challenges in their personal and work life, while understanding this does not preclude you from qualification.

Applicants should have a demonstrated ability to listen to directions and execute them. This is a crucial element of this job as apprentices are relied upon to become more autonomous as the season progresses. A positive attitude and solid communication skills are essential to success in this position. Applicants are encourage to espouse the qualities that make them unique and how those qualities will contribute to the success of a small team.


Gwen Action shot

Apprentices are a part of all production activities over the course of the season. 


Application deadline is February 1st, but applicants may be accepted on a rolling basis.

MSU Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, or veteran status.